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Toronto's underground PATH system is a model for booming cities

At the Guardian, Paul French takes a look at Toronto’s PATH system, which now sprawls under 30 km of downtown streets.

"The explosive growth of Canada’s largest metropolis, evident from a nest of cranes toiling on a skyline where more high-rise towers are under construction than any other North American city, is fuelling expansion of the PATH system in lockstep,” he notes.

However, as much as the system is an engineering wonder, it’s not without its detractors, including residents who ask if it’s sucking street life off the streets, and architects like Jack Diamond who wish it could be a grander, more cohesive affair. Still, change is coming: the newest phases of the PATH are coming out from underground and into airy skywalks, as Toronto’s office core crosses the Gardiner and the railway lands.

Read the whole story here
Source: The Guardian.

Toronto to be the site of North America's first Yuan trading hub

Toronto is poised to be North America's first trading hub for China's yuan currency, allowing for direct exchange and trade operations between the Canadian dollar and yuan. The deal, announced last week, is being predicted to save Canadian companies up to $6.2 billion over the next decade.  

"TD analyst Diarra Sourang said in a report that the arrangement will likely mean an increase in Canadian exports to China, and especially benefit small and medium-sized companies trying to expand into the world's second largest economy," reports Reuters, adding that a TD report has predicted that financial institutions and the province of British Columbia will likely benefit most from the arrangement. 

Read the full article here. 
Source: Reuters


Rubicon Project buys Toronto's Shiny Ads

Advertising automation giant Rubicon has picked up the Toronto start-up, Shiny Ads, along with San Francisco-based iSocket, for the combined tune of just under $30 Million USD. 

The Wall Street Journal reports:
Rubicon Project has built its business offering complicated online ad systems that offer marketers and publishers the ability to buy and sell advertising in real-time auctions. This is often referred to as real-time bidding or “RTB.”
Technology provided by iSocket and Shiny Ads helps power a different type of sale, however, often referred to as “automated guaranteed” or “programmatic guaranteed.” Their technologies enable marketers to buy ad space from publishers on an upfront basis, without the hassle of picking up the phone or emailing their order to the ad seller.

Shiny Ads' website describes the company a provider of "end-to-end programmatic direct advertising platform for digital publishers to sell more premium inventory for increased revenues and profits. By automating the process for advertisers of all sizes, Shiny Ads allows the direct sales team to focus on more complex ad buys and close more deals."

Read the full story here. 
Source: The Wall Street Journal


Lonely Planet names Toronto one of its top 10 cities for 2015

Travel guide gurus Lonely Planet have anointed Toronto among the world's Top 10 Cities to visit in 2015.

"Two North American metropolises on the well-beaten path bracket Lonely Planet's Top 10 Cities list for 2015, one of an annual variety of best-of and trend-spotting rankings announced this week by the travel publisher, which also compiled them into the Best in 2015 book and travel planner," reports the San Francisco Gate.
Toronto comes in at number 10 as Canada's answer to New York City, a "multicultural megalopolis" as described in Lonely Planet's ranking, which also gives a nod to the city's restaurant scene, shopping options, and attractions like the Toronto Islands. But the projected tourism spike and infrastructure advancements associated with July's Pan American Games certainly lend the city additional lustre. 

Lonely Planet writes: "A bunch of public works projects have advanced in preparation for the C $1.5billion international multisport games, including the long-anticipated Union Pearson Express train, which will whizz passengers from the airport to downtown in 25 minutes, making it easier than ever to sink one's teeth into the culinary and cultural delights of Toronto's diverse enclaves."

And there you have it. 
Read the full story here.
Source: SFGate; Lonely Planet.

Toronto to get an elevated park

"The need to retain public spaces in our cities as they develop and grow requires increasingly ingenuitive thinking. A new development in Toronto shows just that sort of thinking in action," writes Gizmag about Toronto's soon-to-be-developed new green space hovering above the train tracks down near Union Station. 

The park, which will be located at 45-141 Bay Street between two buildings, is the work of real estate company Ivanhoé Cambridge for Metrolinx and is "part of the ongoing development of Union Station. The plans include the addition of a new bus terminal, two office buildings to be constructed standing either side of the rail corridor, and the park area between the buildings," the article says. 

The park will not only connect the buildings, which are designed to achieve LEED Platinum certification, but will provide the city with a public space "for recreation and leisure" while also connecting them to the underground PATH. 

Another article in Bloomberg provides additional context. That article reports that the 2.7 million square foot office complex will cost around $2 billion, with construction set to begin in spring of 2015. 

Read the full story here
Original Source: Gizmag

Jennifer Keesmaat brings lessons from Toronto to Perth, Australia

Toronto’s chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat delivered a keynote speech at the Planning Institute Australia WA State Conference at the end of July to highlight Toronto’s “shift” to public transit and its mission to improve congestion, all while challenging the constraints of urban sprawl.

Perth and Toronto have different challenges. While Perth expands outward, Toronto’s challenge is to improve conditions within the boundaries of a city that has reached its growth boundary.  Still, Keesmaat said, Australia’s largest city with a population of just under two million could learn a thing or two from Toronto. 

“There might be some interesting lessons learned with respect to how you begin to transform to an advanced form of urbanism once you move away from that approach of continuing to develop in a very suburban way,” she said. 

“We’ve been there and gone down that trajectory over the course of the past 30 years and we’re now at a moment where we are beginning to urbanise our suburbs by focusing on adding mid-rise development along our corridors and by ensuring we have the density we need in order to make transit a real option.”

Toronto and Perth are both maturing cities, Keesmaat said, and as cities mature limits need to be put in place. She told Perth about Toronto’s protected greenbelt which caused a “fundamentally shift the land economics of the region and forced many suburban developers to become urban developers — they changed their game.” But beyond this, the focus of her speech remained on transportation and congestion, and its direct ties to population growth. 

She said planning high-density communities makes transit options more sustainable, the key to reducing traffic congestion in the long run. 

“It’s a zero-sum gain, that if you continue to plan low density communities there will never be environments that can successfully sustain public transit because there simply isn’t the critical mass to make high-frequency transit use work,” she said. 

For more from her speech, read the full story here
Original source: Perth Now

Notable Toronto startups team up with Homecoming to lure homegrown talent back to city

A group of significant Toronto startups including Wattpad, Shopify, InteraXon, Bionym, and Freshbooks have teamed up with Toronto Homecoming to launch an event designed to attract Canadians living abroad back to Toronto's "thriving technology startup ecosystem," a release stated. 

"Returning to Toronto was the best career move I've made, giving me the opportunity to join Bionym at such an exciting time," said Andrew D'Souza, President of Bionym, in the release. "The current wave of startup technology companies emerging from this ecosystem have enormous potential and represent trajectory-shifting career opportunities for those looking to take the next step as technology leaders. All of these companies have attracted capital, customers and partners from around the globe -- now they're looking to add world-class talent to build their businesses."

Toronto Homecoming's startup event will feature 10 to 15 startups looking to expand their employee base and entice homegrown talent back to the city. It is estimated some 300,000 Canadians live and work in the Bay Area alone. 

"Toronto Homecoming is excited to partner with startups that have significant momentum, funding and great leadership teams. We believe this new startup stream will attract more talent to Toronto, and Canada," said Andrew Graham, Toronto Homecoming's Co-Chair, in the release. "Toronto Homecoming shows Canada's next generation of world-class companies."

The event takes place October 9-11. Applications are open until August 1. 

Participating startups include:

•    Bionym
•    Shopify
•    WattPad
•    500px
•    Wave
•    Freshbooks
•    Achievers
•    Ecobee
•    WealthSimple
•    FinMaven
•    Soapbox
•    Shoebox
•    Interaxon
•    Tab Payments

For more information and registration click here
Original Source: Market Wired 

Fairmont Royal York to open rooftop bee hotel

Earlier this month, we ran a story about rooftop beehives popping up around the city. One of the rooftops featured was that of the Fairmont Royal York Hotel, which at the time of publishing had six hives that had produced some 800 lbs. of honey.

Now the hotel has announced "the introduction of its first pollinator bee hotel," Travel Daily Media reports.

"Supported by a partnership with Burt’s Bees and its annual ‘Wild for Bees’ campaign, Fairmont will develop five sustainable bee hotels – four in Toronto and one in Guelph – with the first launching at the Fairmont Royal York," the article reports.

The pilot program is designed to provide for, attract, and protect "lost and solidary bees by replicating their natural nesting sites." The bees will be able to breed, lay eggs, and seek solace from predators. The hotel will expand Toronto's pilot program at additional hotels throughout the next year. 

“Fairmont Hotels & Resorts is extremely excited about the addition of our new pollinator bee hotel and we look forward providing these pint-sized ‘guests’ with the five-star treatment they so deserve for keeping our ecosystems resilient,” said Alexandra Blum, vice president of public relations for FRHI Hotels & Resorts, in the article. 

The Fairmont supports bee ecosystems at more than 20 properties around the world. For more information on bees in Toronto read our feature story by Andrew Seale, Look up: Toronto is abuzz with rooftop beehives that boost the city's ecosystem.

Read the full story here
Original Source: Travel Daily Media

Toronto named world's most resilient city

Toronto has been named the best city for real estate investment because of its ability to "bounce back from an adverse event," according to a new report issued by the London-based Grosvenor.
Resilient cities are defined by their abilities to "thrive as centres of human habitation, production and cultural development, despite the challenges posed by climate change, population growth and globalization." Resilience, the report says, urgently needs to be rethought due to the pressures placed on cities by economic and population growth.
The report ranked the top 50 cities internationally according to their vulnerabilities (climate, environment, resources, infrastructure, and community), as well as their "adaptive capacity" (governance, institutions, technical and learning, planning systems, and funding structures). 
Toronto came out on top, followed by two other Canadian cities: Vancouver and Calgary. "Canadian cities have a strong combination of low vulnerability and high adaptive capacity. There is a high level of resource availability, and Canadian cities are well governed and well planned," the report says. 
Although Toronto received top rankings, it was not issued a case study as other cities, including Vancouver and New York City, were. "Toronto is no stranger to the importance of resiliency, having endured natural disasters such as the 1998 ice storm and even Hurricane Hazel, in 1954," Richard Barkham, Grosvenor’s Group research director, instead said in a press release.
"The investment of city leaders in infrastructure and its commitment to upgrading it over the decades has put Toronto at the top of Grosvenor’s list of the world’s most resilient cities. Canada, as a whole, is doing exceptionally well in developing resiliency."
Read the full report here
Original Source: Grosvenor

Toronto's financial service sector supports 1 in 13 jobs

Financial services employment accounts for 7.5 per cent of all Toronto jobs, more than world financial leaders including London (7.4 per cent) and New York (6.4 per cent), a new report finds. 
The new report issued by the Conference Board of Canada found that 1 in 13 jobs in the Toronto area is in financial services, which "accounted for 13.8 per cent of Toronto's economy in 2011—second only to manufacturing," the Conference Board summarized. 
According to the report, 230,000 people worked in the financial sector and supported another 191,000 jobs in 2012. Additionally, the industry has grown 25 per cent since 2002 and is typically growing faster than overall employment as a whole. 
"Toronto's stature as a global financial centre is similar to cities such as Frankfurt, Sydney, and Zurich. Toronto's highly-ranked status is founded on its core strengths, which include its diversity and its scale," said Michael Burt, Director, Industrial Economic Trends, in the Conference Board's summary.
However, he notes, the city needs to up its game in order to remain competitive.
"Nevertheless, policy-makers and the institutions that make up the Toronto financial services sector should not become complacent. Cities such as Dubai, Shanghai, Sao Paolo and Mumbai are aggressively developing their financial sectors. Understanding—and leveraging—Toronto's strengths of diversity and scale are the keys to meeting this challenge from new competitors."
Read the full report here
Original Source: Conference Board of Canada

Mohawk College wins top regional Smart Commute award

The year is winding down, so it's no surprise top employer lists are piling in. The Smart Commute awards recognize the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Region's top employers when it comes to implementing smart commute programs. These are employers that demonstrate "exceptional leadership, innovation and success in motivating employees to re-think their commutes," according to the website's criteria. 
It recognizes one overall Regional Employer of the Year in addition to individual awards given to organizations based on region. This year's top winner was Mohawk College. Mohawk's sustainability office played a key role in taking the crown as it supporting smart commute options thanks to its Discount Transit Pass program. In addition, the college offers carpool parking and sheltered bike parking, and has made transportation a "key element of their recent sire redevelopment" including new multi-use pathways that connect the campus to local neighbourhoods. 
Here is the full list of winners broken down by region:
Parsons Brinckerhoff Employee Engagement Award - City of Mississauga
Smart Commute Champion - Sante Esposito
Smart Commute Brampton-Caledon Employer of the YearRegion of Peel
Smart Commute Central York Employer of the Year Scholastic Canada Ltd. - Newmarket
Smart Commute Durham Employer of the YearRegion of Durham’s Hillsdale Estates & Terraces
Smart Commute Halton Employer of the YearHalton Region
Smart Commute Hamilton Employer of the YearMohawk College
Smart Commute Markham, Richmond Hill Employer of the Year Town of Richmond Hill
Smart Commute Mississauga Employer of the YearHatch Ltd.
Smart Commute Northeast Toronto Employer of the YearRoyal Bank of Canada RBC – York Mills
Smart Commute North Toronto, Vaughan Employer of the Year PowerStream
Smart Commute Toronto-Central Employer of the YearBrookfield Properties – Queen’s Quay Terminal
To read about why each employer won the award, click here
Original Source: SmartCommute.ca 

Why TIFF matters

The Toronto International Film Festival wrapped almost two weeks ago now, but the reviews and accounts continue to poor in. Buried among them, this story from the BBC that examines why TIFF matters.
"Since it was first held in 1976 the festival has grown exponentially, aided in part by its apposite positioning at what is widely considered the onset of the annual film awards season," BBC writes. 
The article states TIFF's position in September makes it a jumping point for film season. It continues, "A positive response in Toronto in September can get the ball rolling on an awards campaign that could result in that most coveted of accolades - an Academy Award - at the end of the following February."

"Toronto has become this extraordinary platform for many of the most serious films by some of the greatest film-makers in the world," says British actor Tom Hiddleston, who stars as Loki in the Avengers and Thor: the Dark World
That TIFF asks its "passionate," "intelligent," and "literate" audience to determine the top selection of films—and not, as is in other festivals, a jury—shows that this is a city dedicated to film, the article reports, and not the glamour and fashion of other film fests.

The "behemoth" size of the film festival both draws and dissuades its attendees. The challenge comes in making sure each film gets the proper promotion—and ensuring viewers arrive early enough to catch a screening. 

Read the full story here
Original Source: BBC

Toronto start-ups reach new heights, literally

It's a neat concept that is literally bringing the elevator pitch to a new level. Last Thursday, 100 start-ups gave their best pitch to a panel of judges while taking the 58-second elevator ride to the top of the CN Tower.
The event is an opportunity for entrepreneurs to practice and perfect their elevator pitches, and is the first in a series of pitch events taking place in the world's most famous and tallest skyscrapers. The Elevator World Tour will commence in New York's Empire State Building, Chicago's Sears Tower, the Seattle Space Needle, Taipeo 101 in Taiwan, Paris's Eiffel Tower, Dubai's Burj Khalifa, and the Hammetschwand Life in Switzerland. 
"The main goal of the event wasn’t to have a start-up do a million-dollar deal based solely on their trip up the tower, but to give entrepreneurs a chance to polish their pitches and make key connections, said Mark Relph, an executive with event sponsor Microsoft Corp."
Toronto's Mejuri, a platform that allows jewelry designers to upload original designs that are then manufactured, marketed and sold by Mejuri based on crowdsourced votes, won the contest. They took home free passes and paid travel to the International Startup Festival in Montreal in July where they'll compete against the winners from the other participating elevator cities. The Startup Festival are the organizers of the Elevator World Tour.
The entire experience is being filmed as part of a documentary called A Total Disruption by award-winning American filmmaker Ondi Timoner. 
Read the full story here
Original source: IT Business

We can't get enough of downtown living

The New York Times reports on the downtown condo boom and Toronto's insatiable appetite for urban living.
"In the fourth quarter of 2011 alone, almost 900 condominium units were sold downtown, 25 percent of the approximately 3,600 condo sales citywide."
"A city survey released in March, Living in Downtown and the Centres, attributes the popularity of housing in Toronto's core to its proximity to work and transit options, cultural and entertainment sites, and the venues for the city's major league basketball, baseball, hockey and soccer franchises."
"'Many people like the convenience of not driving to work. They enjoy being in the center of everything and the downtown has lots of restaurants and shops,' said Oksana Jancevic, a sales representative at Royal LePage Real Estate Services who specializes in downtown properties. She settled here herself after relocating from Lithuania 10 years ago."
"The description makes sense considering that more than half of all downtown residents are single and between the ages 20 and 44, according to the new survey. More than 50 percent have at least a university degree and one third have annual household incomes of more than 100,000 Canadian dollars, or $98,000. When it comes to couples, 30 percent are childless."

Read the full story here
Original Source: The New York Times

Toronto's aging bank towers go green

The Toronto Star looks at the "greening" of Toronto's financial core. In addition to a surge in the construction of new sustainable office towers, many iconic Toronto buildings—from First Canadian Place to the TD Tower—are in the midst of massive "green" refurbishments.

"A number of Toronto’s landmark bank towers are now swaddled in scaffolding as they undergo a combined $300 to $400 million in refurbishments that include everything from updating their aged food courts to, in the case of First Canadian Place, replacing its almost 40-year-old marble façade."

"'The trophy towers are getting to that 30- and 40-year-old mark so they are hitting the gym again, so to speak, and getting into shape because they realize they aren't the only game in town anymore,' says John Peets, vice president of leasing for Oxford Properties."

"Oxford, the real estate arm of the OMERS pension fund, announced in October that it's teaming up with the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board to do what would have been unthinkable a decade ago. They're building a 30-storey office tower between Bay and York Sts. that will become the new domestic banking headquarters for the Royal Bank of Canada."

"Most of the renos are aimed at helping the financial towers, the first of which was built in the 1960s, achieve so-called LEED certification—an internationally recognized acknowledgement that the building is energy efficient and environmentally sound."

read full story here
original source Toronto Star 
30 Financial District Articles | Page: | Show All
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